Sunday, July 17, 2016

Constitutional Apathy

Propose extending background checks, banning assault weapons, preventing individuals on the "no fly" terrorism watch list from owning firearms, and the right cries about the Second Amendment. The Amendment at most safeguards the right of militia members to be armed, but few Republicans can buck the NRA.

They are not quite as fond of the First Amendment.  In February, Trump vowed as President to "open up the libel laws" so that "when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money."

In December, his campaign had released a statement including "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."  The remarks were dated December 7, 2015, probably signaling the candidate's admiration for sending Japanese-Americans to concentration camps some 75 years earlier.

Following the horrendous attack in Nice on Thursday night, vice-presidential aspirant Newt Gingrich threw a Hail Mary pass, contending "Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in sharia they should be deported."

After disregarding the First Amendment's first clause "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," Gingrich went after the second clause, which forbids "abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." He contended "anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS or al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, that should be a felony, and they should go to jail. Any organization which hosts such a website should be engaged in a felony. It should be closed down immediately.” (He now concedes it would be "impossible" to deport every American Muslim.... improvement, of  a sort).

And now for something different, a Republican (video below from 2014 election campaign) is disregarding a different portion of the Constitution. The Huffington Post reports

Republicans have never made it easy for President Barack Obama to confirm judges. But Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) came up with a new reason the Senate shouldn’t be filling empty court seats: It’s not our job.

Democrats including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) made repeated requests Wednesday to confirm a batch of Obama’s judicial nominees who are ready for votes. Each time they tried, Tillis objected and suggested the Senate shouldn’t be spending time on judges.

“What we get are things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs,” he said. “I’m doing my job today and objecting to these measures so we can actually get back to pressing matters.”

Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2 reads

The President...shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law....

Senators Warren and Hirono pointed out their colleague's confusion but when asked, Tillis' spokesperson changed the subject.

That was probably wise, given that some Republicans have little interest in the United States Constitution other than the Second Amendment.  And given their thorough distortion of that Amendment, it's probably better that they ignore the document altogether.

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